Talk:Middle Ages/Archive 5

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Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 6

Manorialism etc

I believe the two terms and their explanation are mixed up in this sentence: 'Manorialism, the organization of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles, and feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages.' Feudalism is the organization of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles and Manorialism the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors. This also follows from the information presented when going to the link of manorialism. (talk) 19:07, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Plural vs. singular

Should "the Middle Ages" be referred to as if it were a plural or a singular noun? hollyperidol 07:33, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

What do you think? Would you prefer "the Middle Ages was ..." or the "Middle Ages were ..."? There's really only one right answer to that question: can you guess what it is? Here's a hint for you. To consider the Middle Ages as a plural would imply that there were many Middle Ages, only one of which is covered by this article. Eric Corbett 21:24, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Judging by a quick glance on Google Books in searches for "the Middle Ages were/was", both are used. It's clearly an issue of style. So nothing meaningful to argue about here, really.
Peter Isotalo 21:41, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

It's only a matter of style if being grammatically correct is a "matter of style." "Middle Ages" is clearly a plural noun and the article as written is just wrong. Every dictionary treats it as a plural noun. See

Lead image

Hi, first kudos for you great work on this hard-to-write article. I see that there was a lot of discussion for the lead image. Therefore, I won't argue about the image itself but about its caption. I was actually surprised that this particular image is the lead of this article. Can you add to the caption why is this picture is representative of the subject of the article? -- (talk) 07:36, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

There is no such thing as a picture representative of the Middle Ages. Srnec (talk) 13:55, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Image rotation for lead image

I like the way the WP:TFA image used on the Main Page rotated between five different images. Has that been done before, or is that the first time? And given the arguments about the lead image, might it be possible to have the lead image rotating in the article itself? Or would that really be, er, five times the argument, or (worse) lead to 10, 20 or more images being queued up for the lead image rotation queue... Carcharoth (talk) 01:39, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

I've suggested plenty of other photos for the lead image shot - but none have ever gained traction. I'm not married to the helmet image but I really think we need to use something that isn't from the last third of the period nor a manuscript image. I'd love to use an image from Charlemagne's chapel at Aachen - but the level of detail is not captured well in any photos I've seen yet. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:54, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not talking about which image should be the lead image (that is a different discussion, I thought my heading of 'Rotating images' would make that clear? I've changed the section header in case that wasn't clear). Or are you saying that no other images have enough consensus to join the current image in a possible rotation queue? For those who may not understand what I'm referring to, I'm suggesting that the image rotation that was used for the TFA box during the Main Page appearance, as detailed here (where you commented) be considered for use on the article itself. This would help for really broad topics where a number of excellent, high-quality and relevant images, could be considered for the lead image. Rather than have a montage (the approach taken on some articles), or a single image, why not consider image rotation? Have five (or less, maybe not more) images, with a different one each day (or change them every month or some other time period - the change occurs automatically and I think a bot purges the page). It is possible that this is a very bad idea (similar to templates, page histories might start to look a bit strange), and those printing the article would obviously print it with only one of the lead images. But it is an idea that I thought worth suggesting after seeing it used on the TFA box. Maybe Bencherlite will know whether it is feasible for that 'randomising template' to be used in the article space, and whether image rotation is widely used elsewhere. Some articles (not so much this one) would be ideally suited to image rotation and could use images relevant to the time of year the article is viewed. Carcharoth (talk) 11:45, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that the way the image rotation on the main page worked was by having five different blurb pages and those pages rotated into the main page.... so I don't think that solution would work for the lead image. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:35, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I haven't come across any examples of {{random subpage}} being used in article space (and WhatLinksHere shows that it isn't at all). It is used a lot in portal space to provide a changing lead image where one lead image just isn't enough e.g. Portal:Law, Portal:Geography, Portal:History, which is what gave me the idea for the TFA solution. I don't know whether it's appropriate in article space but it wouldn't be technically difficult at all. For the TFA, I wrote one blurb (I didn't need the same blurb five times) and simply transcluded the images from a randomised subpage. BencherliteTalk 14:39, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, I've seen it discussed in the past for articles with several competing lead images as an alternative to multi-part collages(wars, countries, national groups, etc), but I'm not aware of any articles that have actually used it - the discussions I've seen petered out or were speculative, rather than being specific proposals. It'd be an interesting experiment, but it might be tricky for images that would otherwise be used in the body of the article if they weren't the lead - you'd either duplicate them 20% of the time, or have them missing 80% of the time. Andrew Gray (talk) 18:01, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

Slave trade

Too much detail?. The word "slave" is a corruption of the word "Slav," from the widespread enslavement of captured Slavs in the early Middle Ages. If there were slaves, surely that deserves a mention. -- Tobby72 (talk) 23:48, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

It's mentioned in the article in fact - but the image doesn't tell us a thing that the article doesn't already. The image is really rather "blah" and is just a generic frieze of some guy doing something. It doesn't really enhance the readers understanding of slavery or the derivation of the word slave at all. Ealdgyth - Talk 00:04, 15 September 2013 (UTC)


This article has several cases of usage of the word "barbarian". This is an outdated term for just about every potential usage (other than quotations). It's semantically vague; it applies, in a generally derogatory fashion, to anyone outside of the borders of what is deemed "civilization". In this case, for example, the Roman Empire. Of course, if you have a background in, say, Germanic studies, then you know how ridiculous this perspective is. In short, this isn't good. Can we get more specific terms instead here? :bloodofox: (talk) 23:02, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

I think it's still pretty current, when properly used, in English, if only because there is no easy replacement. Obviously, it's not "anyone outside" the Roman Empire, just the hairy ones with their trousers, moustaches and runes. See for example: James, Edward (2009). Europe's Barbarians: AD 200–600. The Medieval World. Harlow, UK: Pearson Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-77296-0. Johnbod (talk) 23:14, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
It's still very commonly used in the field. Much like "feudalism" is still used although it doesn't really actually occur in the form that folks think it is meant (the classic "feudal pyramid" is a gross oversimplification). Ealdgyth - Talk 23:22, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Runes? Well, we have a word for that: Germanic. And what field are we talking about here, exactly? :bloodofox: (talk) 00:20, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
History. Besides the title noted by Johnbod - see Peter Heather's The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians (Oxford UP, 2006); Walter Goffart's The Narrators of Barbarian History: Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon (Princeton UP, 1988); Richard Fletcher's The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (Henry Holt, 1997); Goffart's Barbarians and Romans (Princeton UP, 1980); and Peter Wells Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered (W. W. Norton, 2008). Ealdgyth - Talk 00:50, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I think it's not a respectable term in the (other) Germanic languages, for some reason... The German article jumps pretty quickly from the ancient Greeks to Dungeons and Dragons. But the situation in English is very different. Johnbod (talk) 02:32, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I see. So "history". Exactly what I should make of this is unclear. But you know where it isn't being used? Pretty much everywhere else. Why? It's a problematic term. Get into respectively specialized areas regarding these various peoples being grouped together as "barbarians" and you'll find the term more and more absent.
English usage? Well, let's look at some definitions of "barbarian". And there are many. Here's a definition: [1]. Mirriam Webster: [2]. Hell, need some more respectable sources? We cover it pretty well here, just read our own article on the topic: Barbarian#Semantics. What you'll find is going to be, over and over, 'savage' or 'non-Greek, non-Roman, non-Christian, non-civilized'. This isn't appropriate for any number of reasons.
Solution? I say we stick to specifics rather than the problematic "barbarian". If we're talking about Germanic peoples, let's say that we're talking about Germanic peoples. If we're talking about a bunch of Huns, let's say we're talking about a Hunnish confederacy. Alans? Alans. Celts? Celts. Scythians? Scythians. And so on. And then problem solved. The term has strong negative associations that we can do without and it's in the best interest for this article to be concise. :bloodofox: (talk) 03:57, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I still haven't seen any sources though for your viewpoint - there is usage for the term - but your changes (and did you read the sources before you made these changes?) were made without any change of sourcing nor without putting any sources for your point here on the talk page. I've pointed out that the term is still used with sources- but you're not doing the same. But whatever. I've certainly learned from working on this article that all the hard work I did just gets me crap - people don't even bother trying to say "wow, great work, but I have a small issue". I've gone and worked a few changes where you've changed the nuance, but I've only returned the dreaded b word once - where I've linked it appropriately. You all win. I won't bother working on big articles any more because it's certainly not worth the bother and pain. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:45, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
It isn't, and I could have told you that before you started. Eric Corbett 12:53, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
The entire reason "barbarian" is used is because we can't just call them all "Germanic" and we cannot always be distinguishing between Germanic speakers, Turkic speakers, etc. It exists because we can't always be specific. The article read much better when it still used "barbarian". Now it uses the stupid phrase "movement of peoples". The implication of extensive movements and migrations ought to be avoided, since it is controversial. Srnec (talk) 13:55, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Agreed - we should go back. Far from making things more specific, many removals of the single word "barbarian" have made the text less so - "barbarian invasions" at least gives some more information than "invasions". Johnbod (talk) 14:22, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Disagreed. The term was being used instead of, for example, Migration Period. "Movement of peoples" is entirely appropriate when, well, people are moving around; as you know, this isn't always due to invasion. See, for example, human migration. Secondly, the idea that some sort of big division existed solely around Rome (and post-Roman institutions) and its/their neighbors is a problem this article continues to suffer from. As I've pointed out before, this article barely touches on Northern Europe, and focuses almost entirely on Christian institutions. Discussion of Christianization, a major part of this period, is barely touched on. We can always state who appears to have composed what group rather than simply saying 'those other people who were not Romans', which is what one gets with barbarian, and the pejorative connotations help no one.
And Ealdgyth, please don't take any of my comments as personal criticism or anything like that. I've worked with a bunch of people here on various articles in the past, including yourself, and I imagine working on a sweeping article like this one can be pretty frustrating. I've tried the FA process before and it certainly caused me to stick to the GA process thereafter. :bloodofox: (talk) 14:37, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

I see the term barbarian (after the changes made by bloodofox) is present in the lead section but not elsewhere (other than in titles of the sources used). The term should be used in the main body of the article if it is used in the lead, if only to explain the meaning of the term. One possible approach might be to use the term in some form of quote marks (I've seen that approach used in other articles) and/or explain in the text or a footnote the meaning and origin of the word, though for such an article that risks being undue weight (why stop and explain this term and not others?). And the use of the term 'barbarians' in book titles has some relevance, but more relevant is how the term is used and treated in the actual text of the books themselves. Carcharoth (talk) 12:07, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

There is pretty clear consensus here to use it more. Someone needs to work through the removals and restore it where appropriate (maybe not all). Johnbod (talk) 02:21, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Two Tense

This is probably more of a question, so I apologize, but when discussing "The Middle Ages" shouldn't the tense be present. I mean they never really happened in the sense that a battle or a discovery did. They are a post hoc modern generic yard stick. For example shouldn't you write that they run from x to y instead of that they ran x to y? Or that they are a period in history versus that they were. 'Periods' of history still presently exist in the sense that they were not used at the time, are used now and maybe won't be used tomorrow, not like someone was king from this time to that. Maybe it's just the way it is (was) done. Any thoughts on this that will shut me up? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:55, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

But the Middle Ages did happen. They didn't call them the Middle Ages, but then they didn't call it the First World War at the time either. Srnec (talk) 13:55, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I guess I just get confused when jumping between events and eras. Events happened, but eras are just artificial constructs designed to help people understand things. For instance you say dinosaurs are (not were) a diverse group of animals of the clade Dinosauria, because although no one disagrees that dinosaurs existed, they realize that a category doesn't really exist and therefore use it in present tense. You'd also say the apatosaurus WAS the largest land animal even if it used to be called brontosaurus. Changing the name doesn't change that it existed. But you'd also say that it IS a genus of dinosaur. In this sense I look at the Middle Ages as a category, not an event. Events use past tense, while categories would use present tense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:47, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Etymology and periodisation

Don't you normally use the sequence: Antique - Middle Ages - Renaissance (rebirths of Antique)? This explains the word "Middle". Soerfm (talk) 12:01, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Not really any more. It was used in the past, but Renaissance is now considered part of the Modern Age. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:21, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

A great article

Thanks to Ealdgyth, Johnbod and everyone who worked on a fascinating article from which I learned a great deal. It also had the best typo I have seen in a while. I was quite sorry to change mail amour to mail armour!

A few queries. 1. It is strictly true that the Byzantines never recovered Asia Minor after 1070, but as they recovered a large part of it by the 1170s I would prefer a more nuanced wording. 2. I do not understand the statement that scholasticism was an attempt to "to reconcile Christian theology with itself" - perhaps "with Aristotelianism", or is this too much of an oversimplification, Ealdgyth? 3. I do not think Bacon is widely credited with the invention of eyeglasses. It is not mentioned in ODNB on him, and the invention has been claimed for Europe, India and China. Dudley Miles (talk) 12:22, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

I'll try to get to these in a while, as you can see the horrid lead image is taking up all my time rather than the actual content of the article. As always, thanks for the help, Dudley. Ealdgyth - Talk 16:39, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I think he is right about Bacon. I wanted to remove a long time ago, but got sidetracked and never figured out what the going theory of their invention is. I have revised the statement on scholasticism based on The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.). It now reconciles "authoritative texts, most notably Aristotle and the Bible". Srnec (talk) 19:33, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Srnec. We can remove the Bacon thing if folks think that's best - I suspect it was already in the article when I started work. Ealdgyth - Talk 20:25, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I have changed "never regained Asia Minor" to "never fully regained Asia Minor". I think the article exaggerates Bacon's originality on optics - ODNB just describes him as the first Latin to assimilate Arab advances - but I do not have an up to date source on medieval optics. Dudley Miles (talk) 09:43, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Congratulations to all

Ealdgyth, John, Eric (and everyone else who's contributed) - this is an absolutely marvellous article, and well done. It's always a delight to see such a broad and fundamental topic appearing as TFA, and the work to get it here must have been staggering.

I also like the Sutton Hoo image, which surprised me a little at first but I think works very well at setting the tone for the article that it isn't all about fourteenth-century knights-and-castles. On that last note, my only quibble is with the end section, Modern perceptions, which talks solely about intellectual history and the idea of the "Dark Ages".

Given all the material that's been written in the FAC and on this talkpage about popular misconceptions, is there enough to build something about most modern perceptions focusing heavily on the High/Late Middle Ages and often ignoring the fifth-tenth centuries entirely, or generically thinking of them as the "dark ages" in contrast with the "middle ages"? It's a pretty common error of definition, and perhaps worth discussing here. Andrew Gray (talk) 12:04, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

I added the comment above, without having read the discussion that had taken place with regards to the lead image.
You've had plenty of discussion, and somehow retained it!
Let me point out very strongly that using a 20th century reproduction objects when thousands of genuine objects exist from the period is just plain reprehensible.
This is something that really ought to have been fixed before it went to front page.
two suggestions
  • a well-chosen manuscript illumination that "sums up" aspects of the period, i.e. it portrays figures in costume, and customs and buildings and art and literature. The Sutton Hoo helmet, (or any part of that treasure, genuine or otherwise) only displays a fairly narrow aspect of the period.
  • a work of architecture that spans a very broad period.
I find the use of a replica in this instance so unsatisfactory that I withhold congratulations until its fixed.
  • Or a stained glass window as one of the most colourful creations, typical of the age
Amandajm (talk) 17:20, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Meh. It's fine. I find it of little consequence, and the picture is fine by me. --Jayron32 17:26, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
If you can say Meh! about it, then you are a bookish historian, not an historian of objects. Objects are a primary sources of History. It is of considerable consequence to a teacher, to an art historian, to a museum curator.
Amandajm (talk) 17:35, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
It is of considerable consequence to you, so we'll have to just wait to see how other people feel about it to see where consensus lies on the issue. Your passion on the issue is already clear from the two posts you have made already, and your opinion does not gain greater weight in the overall discussion when you state it yet another time. There will be other opinions to come besides yours, mine, and others that have already weighed in. When the discussion is done,we'll see where consensus lies, and if your stance holds the day, so be it. But until then, it does little to add to the discussion to just repeat ourselves. --Jayron32 17:50, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Amandajm, history articles are never unadulterated presentations of primary source material. That's for the experts. A faithful replica is a much more meaningful representation than the time-worn original it is based on.
Peter Isotalo 21:32, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
But how faithful is the replica? I made Amanda's complaint back in the first round of the lead image controversy. I wonder if people would care if our article on Ancient Egypt led with an image of a replica Sphinx? Srnec (talk) 13:55, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, can't trust the British Museum to get things like that right. Good thing we have sharp-eyed Wikipedians to put things right.
Peter Isotalo 21:15, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
What sharp-eyed Wikipedia is suggesting that the replica is a bad one? Did I? Did Amanda? Srnec (talk) 00:31, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Peter: You completely misunderstood the concern. The key sentence was the last one: "I wonder if people would care if our article on Ancient Egypt led with an image of a replica Sphinx?"—which your snark completely fails to address. Curly Turkey (gobble) 03:09, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
It's a bogus question about a bogus problem. Why don't you ask that question at Ancient Egypt instead? You're making sooo much fuss about this issue without actually achieving anything constructive.
Peter Isotalo 07:37, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
It's neither a bogus question nor a bogus problem. The only thing bogus is your attitude. Curly Turkey (gobble) 07:50, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, my bad. Keep up the good work on improving the article.
Peter Isotalo 08:03, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Really nice seeing a top-level history topic on the mainpage. Good work, everyone.

Peter Isotalo 21:16, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Peter, The following comment of yours is absolute unadulterated codswallop.:
Amandajm, history articles are never unadulterated presentations of primary source material. That's for the experts. A faithful replica is a much more meaningful representation than the time-worn original it is based on.
You are talking to an expert. My primary expertise is in the interpretation of genuine historic artefacts for the public, including children of all ages from three years and up. To this end, I have written thousands of words, and talked about hundreds of different objects ranging from cathedrals to steam engines to clavichords to bobbin lace to Roman coins. To suggest that a replica is as valuable as the "original" within the context of a history article is ridiculous.
In the case of the Sutton Hoo helmet, the replica plays a very significant part in educating the public about a very badly deteriorated object. It is highly relevant to the interpretation of that object. But in the context of an encyclopedic article on the Middle Ages, it is of far far less value than would be an image of any one of the thousands of extremely well preserved genuine medieval helmets that exist, all across Europe.
I have found every argument in favour of keeping the reproduction object in the lead to be either extremely shallow, or simply dismissive.
Why you keep putting up arguments to keep it, when it is non-essential to the article is something that I find extremely puzzling. Because it is non-essential, the very negative comments and the solid arguments made by those people who both know and care about historic artefacts ought to carry some weight. You could put it down to "taking the best advice available" rather than saying "we need a few more Peters and Jayrons to say it's OK, and then we have a quorum." Amandajm (talk) 07:03, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
This disagreement really all boils down to the issue of original physical artifact vs presentation similar to what contemporaries saw. And, quite simply, which image looks best on top of the article. In the end, it's all about very subjective issues. Posing (literal) Sphinx' riddles and expert-ranting at those who disagree on this is the major problem here.
You're all wasting an awful lot of time and effort on extended campaigning on a subjective prestige issue. Try not to chew out others for finding it a bit tiresome.
Peter Isotalo 07:59, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
There has been a huge amount of discussion on this.It all began with Pedro mistaking the image for a real, well preserved artefact. The argument went on for quite some time, before Smec observed that the lead picture was of a reproduction object. Since that point, the reproduction nature of the object has been raised again and again. The main objection to removing it is simply that the other contributors cannot agree as to which genuine object ought to be used. That is no argument in itself.
Peter Isotalo, your argument that a reproduction represents more accurately what people would have see only holds true in the case of a badly deteriorated object such as the Sutton Hoo helmet. There are thousands of genuine helmets in remarkable state of preservation, barely changed from the day when someone took them off their head and hung them up for the last time. Likewise, hundreds of examples of pictorial representation exist in a state of remarkable preservation, as well as gold, glass, stone carvings, bronze, bejewelled book covers, reliquaries, altarpieces, etc etc. There are even remarkably well-preserved textiles, not to mention stained glass.
I cannot see any excuse for not replacing the image, given the nature of the objection against it. "Not the real thing" ( as in not actually from the Middle Ages) carries far more weight that "not representative of the entire period" or "not such a striking image" or "too well-known" or "i don't want to use a manuscript because they are not representative" ((...and this is?).
Will the team who is working on this get your act together and take the objections against a non-geniune object as the lead, seriously? I presume it's morning in the UK by now, so perhaps someone will wake up and fix it! Amandajm (talk) 08:25, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Here's an outsider's layman POV. The image is too large, the lighting is too harsh, it is sterile, ugly and boring. It looks like someone just took a picture at a museum while on vacation and was so proud of it they decided it just had to be on wiki somewhere. It wouldn't make me want to read the article on an already dry subject. I couldn't believe it when I read that it was a replica. It shouldn't even be used as the lead image on an article on the actual object, it should be at the bottom with a caption that it is an artists interpretation of what the actual helmet once looked like. I can't believe the editors at wiki would allow someone to hold everyone hostage like this. (talk) 09:37, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
So much wrong here… I think the fact that you think this is a "dry subject" speaks volumes for what you say. Nortonius (talk) 11:20, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Amanda, you don't need to convince anyone about anything being "genuin". I'm perfectly aware of the physical differene between original and replica. Our disagreement lies in whether the physicality itself is actually relevant for the purpose of explaining history to average people. If anything, compare with the issue of painted or unpainted classical sculptures.
If you can actually find an image of an original artefact that is as striking and well-edited as the replica photo, I'll gladly support it.
Peter Isotalo 14:12, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Again - many suggestions of replacements have been made, but none have achieved any consensus. And none of the folks sniping here have actually suggested anything either. It would certainly be a lot more helpful if instead of sniping at the editors who worked their butts off on the page folks might actually weigh in on the other suggested lead images. It's all very easy to complain but amazing how much more difficult it is to actually help by making suggestions or edits. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:03, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
The point is that any genuine image that you use would be better than this one. You and the others can work out what is good. The point being made here is that this one is bad.
You don't have any consensus to keep this image here. What you have is a great deal of criticism for using it, and the unarguable fact that it is not genuine, to support its removal.
Anything else will do as a temporary measure. Be brave, delete it! Since you are one of the major editors of the article, you are not going to get walked over for doing it. Amandajm (talk) 13:01, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Meanwhile, I'm getting together a gallery of suggestions, and yes, many of them are manuscript illuminations, because they show several aspects of Medieval (costume, chivalry, castles, towns etc) in a single image. Amandajm (talk) 13:01, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
There was an earlier (slight) consensus not to change. The fact that YOU think the replica is wrong, doesn't make it wrong. Obviously, the British Museum thinks it's accurate enough! We get that you think it's wrong. But right now, I'm rather hacked off at being hectored again and again that it's wrong and that obviously we're all idiots for using something that the BM considers good enough ... so it might be nice if someone actually tried to not lecture and hector but instead actually worked with the discussions that were already on the page. You know .. you catch more flies with honey and all that. Treating the folks who did the incredibly heavy lifting to get this article up to snuff (even if you disagree with one small tiny section of it) with kindness might actually work better than stating "I find the use of a replica in this instance so unsatisfactory that I withhold congratulations until its fixed". Gee... THAT sentiment really makes us editors feel ALL warm and fuzzy and makes us really want to take your statements on board!
I long ago suggested the votive crowns, and it was something that came next closest to consensus for changing the lead image - are folks okay with that image -
Two Visigothic votive crowns from the seventh century Treasure of Guarrazar, a hoard found around 1860 near Toledo, Spain.
Ealdgyth - Talk 13:50, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Ealdgyth, there has been an awful lot written here, so you probably haven't bothered to read it all.
The Sutton Hoo replica helmet, has a valid place, in the context of interpreting the genuine Sutton Hoo helmet. In a showcase of the BM, right near the genuine object, with a sign saying, this is how the helmet was probably put together (note that the first reconstruction has now been deemed wrong), there, in that context, it is a very useful object. There is always a place for reconstructions as instruments of teaching. Have a look at the article Ancient Greek architecture and you'll see two images, together, of a reconstructed site model and a sculpture which no longer exists. There use serves the purpose of informing the reader of material important to the subject, but not demonstrable through the real objects (i.e. the site is in ruins and none of the huge chryselephantine statues exist). But in this context, there is no need to use that replica to explain anything to your reading public. Knowing how one single 7th century helmet may have looked (provided they got it right the second time around) is notessential or even important in the whole breadth of the Middle Ages. So find something genuine.
The votive thingys are OK. But one hardly looks at them and thinks "Wow, Middle Ages!" Your picture has to grab people. It has to have some familiarity as the lead picture. It needs to be clearly identifiable as Middle Ages. Those votive crowns are not. They are not a representative choice. But they do have the advantage of being real. Amandajm (talk) 14:19, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
"Ealdgyth, there has been an awful lot written here, so you probably haven't bothered to read it all." What a marvellous assumption of bad faith, Amandajm. Would you care to rephrase that, or do you not particularly care about the impact of what you are saying on the people to whom you are talking? BencherliteTalk 14:25, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
No, it's exactly the opposite. I am assuming, in good faith, that Ealdgyth hadn't read mys explanation (previously given) for why the reproduction helmet is valid in the context of a museum, but not valid as the lead image.. I presumed that ' had Ealdgyth already ready that, he would not have made the comment about the British Museum thinking it was accurate enough. Amandajm (talk) 15:36, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Is there a specific proposal for an alternative image? As ever with this discussion, it's easiest when its based around specifics. There's now a gallery of sixteen images below - was there any particular one which was being proposed? Hchc2009 (talk) 14:55, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

If you asking me, the specific that concerns me is the inappropriateness of using a picture of a replica.
I would like someone to show some interest in the other proposed images. I have given reasons why a number might be suitable.
As for "working with the discussions that are already on the page".... well, that has been tried and failed, hasn't it? If there was any success in working with those discussions, then, Ealdgyth, you wouldn't be feeling "hectored" about the subject being brought up again.
Have the votive crowns, if you must. You are bound to be criticised for them not being sufficiently representative, but if you are prepared to argue that you like them anyway, then go with that.
Just remove the reproduction images. That sarcastic unnamed editor has really shown up the inadequacies of Wikipedia, where people can actually argue for pages and endless blinking pages over whether a reproduction object ought to be used to represent an historic period, when there are a thousand other images freely available. It makes Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia of the 21st century look just plain stupid!
The moment that Pedro, way way back there, mistook it for a genuine object, was your warning that it was problematic.
Smec's original comment that it was reproduction was your second warning that it was inappropriate.
Pedro followed up with a pertinent comment about using a Robin Hood image instead.
At that point, you should have got the message and made the change. All this shouldn't haven't needed to be said.
Having to hammer a point that should have been taken on board more than a year ago, is ridiculous!
I cannot understand why you would expect anyone to be polite about it, at this point in time.
I cannot comprehend why the problem wasn't fixed a year ago.
Just chose any temporary solution that you like, but get rid of the misleading reproduction object.
And no, stating that it is reproduction doesn't fix the problem.
Amandajm (talk) 15:36, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I haven't changed the image because I'm trying to work with all the people arguing for various images - trying to gain some sort of consensus so that we don't have to go through this again. As for most of the below images - they are quite late in time - 1338 (and actually Italian Renaissance, no less), 1450, 1400, 1305, late 13th century, 1300, 1320 - that's dreadfully late in the period and not representative of the whole breadth of the time period. There is 900 years of history before these images, wouldn't it be better to use something from earlier in the period? But ... manuscript images have been discussed above. (By the way, I"m a she, not a he.) You do not like the replica. And a couple of others did not also. But other editors DID like the replica and in the earlier consensus was to keep the replica. You need to find a consensus to replace that image with something else - which is why *I* am not unilaterally replacing it without getting input from the other editors. That's how these things work. I'm fine with replacing the replica if we have consensus for a specific other image... can we settle down to that instead of the constant beating over the head about the horrors of a replica, please? (And yes, I read all of your arguments, I read everything on this page, actually. That I did not repeat myself again to rebutt your arguments the second or third time they were raised does not mean I did not read them...) Ealdgyth - Talk 16:19, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
"I cannot understand why you would expect anyone to be polite about it, at this point in time", said Amandajm. To be frank, I can't understand why someone would *want* to be as impolite as Amandajm has been on a talk page *and* then still expect everyone to agree immediately with the argument being put forward and immediately replace the lead image... but perhaps the standards of discussion I would hope for are unrealistic. Yes, we know you disagree with this image, but you are just one person in this discussion, however loudly you shout and however often you repeat your arguments. As ever, kudos to Ealdgyth for keeping calm in the midst of such provocation - and my renewed apologies for selecting this for TFA and drawing yet more moths to the unconstructive flame of the lead image discussion. BencherliteTalk 16:33, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Ealdgyth, just change it to whatever you like, as long as it was made during the Middle Ages.
Anything genuine is better than something not genuine.
There is no great case being presented for any other image.
You like the Visigoth Crowns. Well have them! People might say they are "not representative"of the entire period (or whatever), but no-one will tell you that they are seriously inappropriate, which is the point that has been made by me, by Pedro who referred to Robin Hood, and by the other editor who told you that you might a well use Al Jolson in Blackface to represent a black American.
You have sufficient serious objection to the current picture to just fix it any way you can, despite the fact that a few people have made fairly unconvincing arguments in favour of it. Just have the courage to do it, and put in your own choice! Or my choice, or that nice little Market Place picture, for which I found a better version.
Remove what is obviously WRONG. Then let people sort out which one of the ten-thousand potentially right images they want. In the meantime, let's have your choice. Amandajm (talk) 17:17, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I note that my previous comments were deleted (some strange suggestion about them being a troll, they were not (I didn't mind the person who decided to add them to a roll-up due to being sarcastic They were sarcastic - but NOT a troll.)). They were seriously illustrating the issue when you accept a replica as being a good example in an inappropriate context. Peter has previously commented that they are good enough for the British Museum. The fact is that the British Museum, on their own website, lead with the original helmet, not the reproduction. See (talk) 09:25, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I think this argument is a much stronger one than Al Jolson as a rejoinder to Peter's "Yeah, can't trust the British Museum to get things like that right" snark. If the British Museum won't even lead the Sutton Hoo article with their own replica, then why would an article covering a 1000-year period for an entire continent and its periphery? Personally, I'd like to see a collage of images like at War of 1812 (as an aesthetically pleasing example, I think). Curly Turkey (gobble) 10:01, 16 September 2013 (UTC)


Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Effects of Good Government, one of the greatest remaining and most representative secular images of the Middle Ages. (1338-40)

Some delightful images of Medieval life

The Codex Manesse is a good source- take your pick!

Don't want illuminations? Try one of these!

Here are two real helmets, rather than a fake one. About the same date as the original of the reproduction


Lincoln Cathedral (sometimes acclaimed as the greatest Medieval building in Britain) 1074-1548 (spanning nearly 500 years of the period under discussion) seen from the ruins of the Bishop's Palace.

If there is one aspect of the Middle Ages that is not fully dealt with here, then it is the role of the church, i.e. the church building. The great cathedrals and Abbey churches dominated the townscape, and were landmarks to travellers and provided hostels to the weary. The building of them cost the labour of thousands of people, and the taxing of the poor. They were the source of education, spirituality, and entertainment. Religious festivals were the only holidays, and religious processions brought whole towns together.

The buildings are still with us. They are the most visible reminder of the Middle Ages. And they exist in thousands, some of them standing tall as reminders of great kings and bishops, and others, more humble, revealing in their motley architecture, the passage of the centuries as they slowly grew from small aisless chapels to substantial parish churches with towers, porches and vestries. I would like to see at least one more image of a representative church in the article, if there is somewhere to place it that does not disrupt the other illustrations.

A picture of a representative Medieval building, or collection of buildings could go in the lead. Such a picture would be instantly recognizable as from the Middle Ages. We could go for one of the under-represented truly great works of the period. Just as suggestion. Amandajm (talk) 16:07, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

But this image is rather ... blah. Above you argued that crowns don't grab attention, well, this image is even less arresting than the crowns. If there was a good image of Charlemagne's chapel at Aachen, I could see that being used, but this image is just not going to grab anyone's attention. Ealdgyth - Talk 16:25, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
It is also not a very good indication of how Lincoln Cathedral looked in the medieval period - it then had a huge central spire, which collapsed in 1548, and smaller spires on the towers which survive today. Hchc2009 (talk) 16:30, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I entirely agree with both Ealdgyth and Hchc2009. It's not even a good photograph of the cathedral today. BencherliteTalk 16:35, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Aachen Dom
Sure. It's just a suggestion.
It isn't the way that it looked in the Medieval period. It doesn't have to be.
What it is, is seriously medieval. It is a reminder that these buildings are what we have inherited from that period. Our medieval legacy. Constructed stone by stone, and still standing, still serving it's original purpose. Still the grandest building for miles around.
I have already looked at images of Aachen, which was high on my list. Unfortunately none are very good, but I have editted one to make it a bit lighter (it was photographed on a very cloudy day). I'll upload it and put a copy here for discussion.
In the meantime, move the reproduction image.
Re the crowns- they are not my favourite image, but they are at least a thousand times preferable to the reproduction object. That is the message that none of you seem to have comprehended yet!
A real 900 year old building is less suitable than a 20th-century reproduction object, because it has lost it's spire? Are you serious? Well, we'd better remove pictures of the Colosseum, the Parthenon and all those other buildings that are partially ruined, from their relevant articles, and replace them all with models, I suppose!
17:31, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I just found this pic of Aachen. It's better than the one I fiddled with. And its vertical, which you may prefer. Amandajm (talk) 17:34, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Ealdgyth, why don't you go and check through all the edits to the lead picture that other people have reverted.
Then you can choose whichever looks best. The two crowns are actually rather nice.
Amandajm (talk) 17:54, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Hchc2009, Bencherlite, Ealdgyth,
Instead of reverting images of genuine medieval objects, for the sake of a reproduction object, since there are three of you, and four, if you want to count me (which you probably don't), why don't you discuss the best option?
You are all doing the easy thing and simply arguing with me, and nit-picking my Wiki-manners, and my individual suggestions, but not one of you has actually taken stock of the very real problem.
You have a person here with a lifetime of art education, and multiple years spent in a museum. I am telling you, as a museum professional, that the choice is highly inappropriate. So inappropriate that you have had two people, Pedro and the other unnamed editor, making very sarcastic comments.
You need to address that problem.
It is far more important than simply winning an argument with a person whose manners you don't like, or playing the one-up, Im-reverting-because-you-don't-have-consensus game.
The bottom line is this: Whether you like it or not, what I am telling you is correct. Leaving the image of a reproduction object there is non-professional and makes Wikipedia look ridiculous from an academic point of view.
I do not know how to make the point strongly enough without you giving me the "you're being rude" stuff. Believe me, when I saw that this problem was pointed out more than a year ago, I was flabbergasted that it hadn't simply been fixed.
You have the opportunity to do something about it. Just do it!
Over and out.
Amandajm (talk) 18:22, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Actually, I haven't reverted. I haven't edited the first image at all in the last few days - so please don't claim *I* am reverting. (You actually got reverted by Modernist as well as by Bencherlite and Hchc2009) I've been trying to discuss... but it takes some time. I've been waiting for other folks to weigh in ... you know, those other people who helped with the article. You need to let other folks weigh in. It's not going to break the world if the image stays there a little while longer. Let other folks have a say, please. Ealdgyth - Talk 19:07, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
There are two very separate issues here: whether of not to keep the current image and, if not, what to replace it with. From previous discussions, there seemed to be unanimity that the current image contradicted the Manual of Style for images, with the arguments in favor of it boiling down to how striking the image was and WP:IGNORE. There was no consensus on the second point, largely because there are so many options and because we were prematurely discussing replacements without first getting consensus that the existing image should be removed. I think we should take this one step at a time. I am in favor of removing the current image as inappropriate for the lead due to the subject of the photo being so unexpected and unrepresentative of the topic. The content of the photo has to take priority over the quality of the image. There have been a large number of other editors who have also objected to the image over time, for these and other reasons. I don't think we need to have all of us saying so in the same talk page section in order to be counted.AmateurEditor (talk) 20:00, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Ealdgyth, I did not intend to imply that you personally had reverted. But simply that reversions had taken place instead of action. And that you were still around, and still concerned.
I am cutting and pasting this from just a little further up the page, as an indication that I didn't accuse Ealdyth personally of having reverted:
Ealdgyth, why don't you go and check through all the edits to the lead picture that other people have reverted.
Then you can choose whichever looks best. The two crowns are actually rather nice.
Amandajm (talk) 17:54, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Pasted here. Once again, in good faith, I'll presume that you hadn't read it. Amandajm (talk) 02:06, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

The case for and against the repro helmet remaining in the lead


  • The team has spent many many words discussing a replacement, and hasn't been able to agree.
  • It's a striking image
  • It represents a lesser known aspect of the period
  • It represents an iconic object
  • It has a moustache (seriously!)
  • It represents an object in the state that people would have seen the object in the Middle Ages


  • The object is a reproduction, not genuine
  • Using a reproduction object has a place in interpreting the object that it represents, but not as the representative lead to a major article
  • Using a reproduction object, in the context of written history, for a purpose other than the interpretative purpose for which it was designed is not on. (this is coming from someone with a museum background)
  • There are thousands of genuine objects in a very good state of condition, so the argument that it represents something as people would have seen it, doesn't wash.
  • Various contributors have pointed out: You might as well use a reproduction of the sphinx in an article about Egypt; You might as well use stills from a Robin Hood movie; You might as well use Al Jolson in blackface on the page Negro
  • The object is misleading, despite the caption.
  • The picture looks out of the side of the page.
  • The fact that the group who developed this page cannot agree on a replacement, ought not prevent the removal of an unsuitable object
  • The fallback picture needs to be one that is not contentious.
  • Enough people have criticised and even ridiculed this choice of image for it to be clear that it really has to go
  • Non-contributing readers will assess Wikipedia on the lead image. Most will not care. Some will care a great deal.
  • The very fact that the object has been allowed to remain, while a replacement is discussed, demonstrates a lack of professionalism on Wikipedia.
  • There are two issues. This is the important one.

Hope that this summary is useful. Amandajm (talk) 03:06, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, I think we can all tell where you're coming from when you write the summmary in this way. Giving as the first reason for keeping it that no-one can agree on anything else is hardly fair, but what did we expect from you? And then "It has a moustache (seriously!)" Where did someone in favour of the image give that as a reason for using it? I see various arguments for keeping the helmet omitted, such as "Its cultural milieu, as I understand it, is as much Scandinavian and Germanic as Anglo-Saxon, and its design has its roots in that of a parade helmet from the Roman Empire – i.e. about as European as it can get!" (Nortonius, 13:29, 13 July 2012); that an image from late in the period would give a misleading impression (various); it shows a common style of helmet used through much of the period rather than (e.g.) plate mail which was only used for a much smaller part of the period; "it demonstrates that the skill of even early Middle Age craftsmen was far beyond what one might expect, that the period wasn't in any real sense a 'dark age'" (Eric Corbett, 01:09, 4 June 2013); etc. I wonder why you omitted these points - in the spirit of assuming good faith, should I too say "there has been an awful lot written here, so you probably haven't bothered to read it all."? BencherliteTalk 08:29, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
  • The points that were omitted do not in any way address the fact that the object is reproduction.
  • They address the arguments that (as a British Saxon object) it is not widely representative. Talk:Middle Ages#Lead pic ... and Talk:Middle Ages#Knight lead image
  • These two discussions pertain to whether the image is preferable to a gallery of images, a manuscript illumination, or one of the other prosed images. In one lengthy discussion the image is treated, throughout, as if it was an image of an authentic object. The members of the team taking part in that discussion appear to have forgotten that the main objection is to its reproduction nature. As such, that part of the discussion, and the points made are not really valid.
  • The fact is, the image does not represent a genuine object, and shouldn't be treated on the same footing as those that do. Any argument that continually refers to the object as "representative" is irrelevant. It is a magnificent example of a Museum replica. It is not a representative piece of Anglo Saxon, British, or European armour. It is 13 or 14 centuries too late.
  • Actually, there are only two real arguments for retaining it: 1. It's a striking image 2. It represents an object in its "new" state, as people at the time of the creation of the original might have perceived the original.
  • I removed the comment that it has in its favour a moustache, because plainly it was written in jest. Sorry, but it was funny when written, and possibly even funnier when cited as a reason.
Amandajm (talk) 09:36, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your last edit. I didn't realise that I had that option, which is why I left the comment immediately above. I had better strike that out as well. Amandajm (talk) 10:00, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
"Actually, there are only two real arguments for retaining it" - err... no. You're trying to read the minds of the other people weighing in on this discussion. The fact that YOU think the use of reproduction is wrong is not yet a proven fact that has been conceeded by all those folks weighing in above. Eliminating their reasons because you think they agree with your argument is not correct. We don't know that they think the reproduction use is wrong (for that matter, I am not convinced either ... but that's neither here nor there). You are assuming something that hasn't yet been proven about the "pro" side - that all those people agree that using a reproduction is wrong to use here. WE are not a museum. We are an encyclopedia, so as long as the item is properly labeled, it's not "wrong" or "against the rules" to use the picture. There may be better images to use, but continually arguing that it is wrong and acting like this is a proven fact isn't yet the consensus on this page. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:05, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry I was not very present an editor on the article for giving my opinion but I have a remark. Perhaps you will want to take it as a question. I did not find, in the Manual of Style, the recommandation regarding the watching inside/outside prefered case. I am happy to see there is people on Wikipedia who will care about that question ( I found horrors once in an article about perspective ) and I may add that, intuitively, that rule is in accordance with what I would call my own set of pictorial rules and criteria. This in accordance however, regarding portraits; of human beings generally and particularly, in B&W. I do not think that rule makes the same sense for inanimated objects. Particularly when those objects are somehow a representation of death, it could be the contrary. I could verify my impression when you changed the picture for that of an other helmet yesterday. I found that there was a weight intruding into the intro; I would have reduced that picture about more than its half in order to restitute the proper state of equilibrium. Hope this helps. -- Askedonty (talk) 11:02, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Ealdgyth, I apologise for my sloppy use of tense.
What I should have said was: At this point in time, only two arguments have been presented for retaining that image:: 1. It's a striking image 2. It represents an object in its "new" state, as people at the time of the creation of the original might have perceived the original.
Every other argument that has been made in the discussions above hinges on either 1. the teams' inability to decide on a different image. 2. Whether or not the real object is representational of the period.
Now I have set this in the past tense and made it perfectly clear, I hope, that my summary, and my statement both refer to what was already on this page, and not to some hypothetical argument that somebody might present, in favour of retaining it.
"We are not a museum... we are an encyclopedia" is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
You don't require "proof" to tell you this is wrong. It cannot be proven. However a statement, like the one made a year ago, that suggests you should use stills from a Robin Hood movie is a pretty clear indication that some people out there find the use of this object just plain ridiculous.
Amandajm (talk) 12:56, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Askedonty, that you for your contribution, re the direction that the image looks. Even though it is not a portrait, it is anthropomorphic. Other sorts of images, particularly images of architecture, can also be left or right facing and are best positioned accordingly, if possible. Amandajm (talk) 13:02, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I've found nothing MOS but even if I had I will still see in the photograph of an elephant looking into my eyes the will of the photographer to "anthropomorphise" our relationship. -- Askedonty (talk) 16:17, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Just a note to say I've been watching this discussion but don't plan to participate much until there is a specific single proposed image to replace the helmet. Abstract discussions about pros and cons don't seem very helpful to me; a discussion of the pros and cons of the helmet versus an alternative would be more useful, I feel. I'm not opposed to replacing the helmet with something better, if consensus can be reached, but I think the helmet is an excellent lead image and anything that replaces it needs to be high quality both visually and thematically. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:10, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Mike Christie, this is not about one image versus another image. I have no agenda to see any other particular image put up. I am happy to go with the Visigoth crowns which Ealdgyth has suggested; or an image of Aachen Dom, which Ealdgyth said would be acceptable, of which I have found one possibly suitable; or the image of a genuine helmet of the same date, of which I have provided an image. Any of these.
The question of which image to use instead is irrelevant. The crucial issue is that the reproduction 20th century educational object ought to be removed, and a real object from the Middle Ages put in its place. I do not care which one. (Three people found my proposed Lincoln Cathedral boring, so that is not on the list of options). I am not being precious about my choice. I am merely being professional about the removal of a reproduction object, currently taking pride of place in an article on History.
Please go to the article's history page and flick backwards. You will see three possible images, all of which have been reverted, but can still be accessed and viewed in context.
Yesterday, when there were three editors arguing about this, I suggested that they came to an agreement with Ealdgyth, while I dropped out. The arguers immediately disappeared, leaving Ealdgyth to deal with it.
It is not my position, to decide on the replacement. I am merely blowing the whistle on what is bad practice in other institutions that use artefacts for educational purposes i.e. museums.
Amandajm (talk) 13:45, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I understand your point, but I disagree. I think it's acceptable to use an image of a reproduction artefact. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:19, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
The MOS has this to say:
"Lead images should be images that are natural and appropriate visual representations of the topic; they not only should be illustrating the topic specifically, but should also be the type of image that is used for similar purposes in high-quality reference works, and therefore what our readers will expect to see."
The key words here are "high-quality reference work". Find me a high quality reference work that uses a reproduction object to head up a major topic on history.
Amandajm (talk) 17:06, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Proposals for lead image

Late 20th century replica of an Anglo-Saxon helmet found at Sutton Hoo. The original c. 620. This object is located in the British Museum where its purpose is to aid in the interpretation of the fragmentary original
An original 7th-century helmet of the Vendel era from Sweden, Swedish Museum of National Antiquities. A version of this file with a red background exists, see above.
Two Visigothic votive crowns from the seventh century Treasure of Guarrazar, a hoard found around 1860 near Toledo, Spain.
Aachen Cathedral incorporates Charlemagne's octagonal Palatine Chapel (796), with a chancel of the 14th century and other additions made at various dates during the Middle Ages. The building dates span almost the entire period represented in the article. The historic importance of the Palatine Chapel can hardly be overstated. Church architecture is very poorly represented in the article, given that it is the major enduring physical record of the period.
Siege of the Castle of Love, ivory mirror back, (1350-70), another beautiful and striking object that would look good up front.
There is no justification for using a reproduction object as the lead image to the article when images like this are available. Amandajm (talk) 16:08, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Since you want a solid proposal, I propose the Vendel Helmet, because it is very like the genuine Sutton Hoo Helmet. If all the arguments in favour of the reproduction helmet hold (when those arguments are being presented as if it was the original being discussed) then I presume all the same arguments would hold for the use of the Vendel Helmet.
The only argument in favour of the reproduction that doesn't hold true of this item is the fact that the reproduction looks shiny new, which is seen by one editor as a point in its favour.
The other obvious advantages of this image are that it faces inward and is viewed from a better angle.
Amandajm (talk) 16:19, 16 September 2013 (UTC)


Any objections to setting up auto-archiving for this page? I'd suggest we set the keep age to 120 days. If there are no objections I'll do it in the next few days if someone else doesn't get to it first. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:26, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

Good idea. Johnbod (talk) 12:15, 19 September 2013 (UTC)
Done, I think. It's easy to screw up the config so I will keep an eye over the next day or two to make sure it's doing what I intended. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:58, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

Discussing lead images

Setting out a few thoughts here, as the above discussions are rather disjointed and overwhelmed by a particular style of discourse (scatter-gun headers and jumping around the page - one editor in particular is overwhelming the discussion and needs to take a step back).

  • On a topic as broad as this, no single lead image will satisfy everyone or be representative of the period as a whole
  • If a single image is used rather than a selection or a montage, it should be reasonably representative and a striking image that draws the reader into the article.
    • I think "representative" vs "striking" is a major source of the conflict here. What relative weight should be given to each? Curly Turkey (gobble) 01:42, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • It is worth looking at how articles in other encyclopedias handle this (I suspect most, sensibly, do not have a 'lead image' - an approach that is peculiar to Wikipedia at times). The closest equivalent might be cover or frontispiece images in books, but these need to be books about the Middle Ages as a whole, not subsets of the period. I'm not suggesting we use images of the same things they do, but having a point of comparison would be useful.

At some point, the discussion will start to go in circles and become unproductive (that point may already have been reached). Ideally there would be a mechanism to take a decision at that point, accept the result, and then move on. Carcharoth (talk) 01:33, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Let's not miss the real matter of the discussion, which is the continued statement by the present contributor that a 20th-century reproduction object, design for the specific context of interpreting a "real" object, is not representative of any part of the Middle Ages. It is only representative of late 20th-century museum practice. It does not appear as the front item in reputable publications on the object that it depicts, so it can hardly be representational of the period that the genuine article belongs to.
One of the reasons that this current discussion is taking place is the circuitous nature of two previous discussions in which the main editors of the article could not agree on a lead picture, and used this reproduction objects as their fallback. Now the other editors appear to have disappeared and left Ealdgyth trying to deal with all my objections single-handed. Where are Johnbod and Nev1?
Can I suggest, User talk:Curly Turkey and Carcharoth, that instead of adding generalised comment about the nature of the discussion, you make a really positive contribution by aiding the editorial team in selecting a non-reproduction, genuine Medieval artefact as the lead image. There are three good ones to chose from. Ealdgyth likes the crowns. Ealdgyth (I think it was) stated that Aachen Palatine Chapel would be acceptable, and the helmet image answers almost all the arguments put forward for the reproduction object, except that it is real. they are all striking images. Just nominate your choice. Amandajm (talk) 03:57, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Amandajm: You're not going to get anywhere suggesting other images when editors are insisting that the images you suggests must be at least as aesthetically pleasing as the one that's already there before they will condescend to talking about it. You have to agree on some ground rules for the discussion if you don't want to talk at cross purposes—or do you enjoy this treadmill? Curly Turkey (gobble) 04:23, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Oh dear, I was hoping to stay out of this round. Some thoughts:
1) "representative" of the whole period/thing is a forlorn hope.
2) There is plenty of room for 2-3 images in the lead/opposite the TOC & 1st section.
3) It's reasonable, if a permanent rotation/slideshow can't be done, to change the image every so often, & we seem to have had the helmet since at least April 2012.
4) I have a strong preference for something from say 1100 or before, and avoiding the later medieval cliches.
5) Note we already have "Charlemagne's palace chapel at Aachen, completed in 805[100]" in the relevant place.

I'd be amenable to say 3 images at the top, changing once a year or so. I still like the helmet, but it could go down to 2 or 3. I like the market-place miniature too, late though it is. Or the ivory image just above. Find something Romanesque & really nice - no R'que architecture currently I think - that would make a balanced set. I don't like the other helmets; I love the votive crowns, but not for a lead image. Johnbod (talk) 04:42, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for joining in, Johnbod. I like both the ivory and the market place images.
Curly Turkey, as it happens, even though the image is high quality, and the object beautiful, I find the image of the reproduction helmet aesthetically displeasing (in this context) because it looks out of the page. (as another recent editor has also commented).
However, the fact that I find its appearance in the lead displeasing is a very minor consideration in light of the fact that it is reproduction, and therefore cannot be representative.
If the reproduction helmet is used at all, it should not be used to represent a medieval object. It should only be used in the context of the genuine object, i.e. in a gallery where the two are side by side, with the explanation that "this represents the original state of that".
Basically, it doesn't comply with MOS as a lead image, because no reliable publication would use it in the context of representing the Middle Ages. Amandajm (talk) 05:08, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Amandajm: you're not understanding what I'm saying. You and some of the other editors are working from different axioms: some of them have explicitly stated they have no issue with having a replica as an image. As your argument starts from there, you can only possibly hope to talk at cross purposes with those editors—thus, as Carcharoth stated, you'll only be talking in circles. Your position is that the image is totally unacceptable. Johnbod's response is that he's willing to compromise by rotating the images (including the replica) or by having a collage with the replica "down to 2 or 3". As you're not working from the same premises, this'll just go back & forth & back & forth ad nauseam, neither of you understanding why the other "just won't get it". Curly Turkey (gobble) 05:39, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Curly Turkey, There is a big difference between not seeing it as a problem, and being able to clearly justify its use. "I'm OK with it" is not the same as "I insist that it is definitely the best and most representative thing available". No-one has put forward a strong case for its continued use.
On the other hand, there is a very strong case against its continued use. Please do not treat this as if I am merely saying that I do not like the image or find it representative. Having been employed in a museum, I am coming at this from my professional standpoint. It is the misuse of a reproduction object designed for a very specific purpose. You are quite right in saying that I don't get it, when no half-reasonable case has been put up for maintaining it, in the light of the fact that the criticism, to the extent of sarcasm towards its use began a year ago and has never been properly addressed.
Those people who object to the object's continued presence in the lead of the article are not half-hearted or apathetic in their objection. The statements that have been made have included (from one rude person now deleted) implications about the corporate intelligence of the editors. That is not nice stuff!
One of the reasons given for not replacing it was that no firm proposal had been made.
I have made a firm proposal. See above. I propose the use of a genuine helmet of about the same date, as an interim solution while the editors solve the problem of which genuine object they would prefer.
NOTE: This is a stopgap measure. I don't want to lock the editors into my choice. Amandajm (talk) 09:19, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Wow. Talk about talking at cross purposes. Have fun with your treadmill. Curly Turkey (gobble) 11:14, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Curly Turkey, Talking at cross purposes has been exactly the problem.
When the problem with this image being of a reproduction, late 20th century object was first made, by Pedro, a year ago, he made a couple of very sarcastic comments that should have been taken onboard.
But the team working on this forgot, or dismissed that. They didn't get it that the criticism was serious.
They talked at cross purposes fro two very lengthy discussions about whether the Sutto Hoo Helmet was representative of the period, completely forgetting (it seems, that the use of the sam had been lampooned.
Now, that is what I call talking at cross purposes.
Since then, we have been told that it is like using Al Jolson in Blackface to front up the article Negro. That was seen as being in such bad taste that it has been deleted, bt it alerts to the fact that someone else out there finds the use of a reproduction object in this context seriously problematic.
I am not talking at cross purpose. I have only one purpose, and that is to get the reproduction object removed from the lead, because it makes Wikipedia look extremely unprofessional and unreliable.
Every time someone criticises my manners, they are on a red herring trail'.
Every time someone insists that we need to choose an image that is as striking, they are at cross purposes.
Put up any genuine object, and it will solve the problem caused by this one.
The problem of the unsuitability of the reproduction will not go away, even if the current complainant does.
Amandajm (talk) 23:14, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Sorry to everyone with how meta this has become. I've taken it to Amandajm's talk page. Curly Turkey (gobble) 00:04, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Fallback image
Please put up a "fallback"image that is not contentious. Your "fallback" image ought not be one that promotes ridicule such as "You might as well use a still from a Robin Hood Movie" and informed criticism that tells you that within a museum context, this would be totally unacceptable.
The fact that the object has provoked a number of bitingly sarcastic comments alerts to its problematic nature. It's much more serious than saying "a Saxon helmet doesn't represent the whole period" or "I don't like the way it looks out of the page".
Any genuinely Medieval image will do as a stopgap.
Then you can take days or weeks to replace your stopgap. The new choice is not the major issue.
If Johnbod, Nev1 and Ealdgyth (and/or anyone else) cannot agree on a substitute, then that is not the real problem. Anything would be better than this from an ethical point of view.
Amandajm (talk) 05:25, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
When did this become an etical issue? That's an absurd comment Eric Corbett 10:27, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

Fly-by comment - what about reconstruction drawings?

I don't have much time to jump into the discussion at the moment (hopefully will do tomorrow evening or the one after that), but what if we could persuade someone like English Heritage to release a reconstruction drawing with a compatible licence? Would something like a reconstruction drawing of Wharram Percy be an acceptable lead image? I don't know how successful trying to persuade EH would be, but it might be worth a try. Nev1 (talk) 10:51, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

No, Nev1, it wouldn't. A reconstruction drawing would be good on the Wharram Percy page, to demonstrate what it was like once, but it doesn't belong as the lead image, unless the name of the article is Reconstruction Drawings. Amandajm (talk) 11:21, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough, I'll get my thinking cap on then. Nev1 (talk) 19:33, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Request to Amandajm

Amandajm, would you post the helmet image you wish to use as the lead image, along with the proposed caption, and ask for comments pro and con, in a new section? I'm not sure which of the two backgrounds you would like to propose, and I'd rather you suggest a caption to go with it than write one for you. Then we can see if there is support for the change. I would also suggest you don't write a long section explaining why your choice is an improvement; I think your position is very clear from what you've written above, and I'd like to hear from others on a straight choice between the existing image and your proposal. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:08, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Sounds sensible. Hchc2009 (talk) 12:12, 17 September 2013 (UTC) (by iPhone, so I can't type at length!)
I am going to comment here that this is the stopgap choice, as close to the replica as possible, but the real thing. It doesn't have to be permanent. The team can expand the caption. Amandajm (talk) 16:13, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Mike, insisting on a specific alternatives as part of deciding whether or not the current image should change introduces a bias in favor of the status quo. For one, it presumes that there will be an image used, even though the MOS suggests that, in cases where no single image can be representative, not having one at all can be the best option. It also presumes that a single image image will be used, rather than multiple ones. And since there is no consensus on a replacement candidate as of yet, those opposed to the current image will be split among those who favor a specific alternative and those who do not, which could easily give the false impression of a plurality or even a majority in favor of the current image when a majority may actually oppose it. It may also shift the emphasis of the discussion toward the aesthetic, and even those opposed to the current image agree that it is striking aesthetically.
The point made by User:Curly Turkey earlier is an important one. We first need to agree on the framework of the discussion to avoid talking at cross-purposes and getting nowhere. For example: first, do we, as a group, believe the current image is acceptable for the lead, or not. If so, we are done. But if not, only then should we discuss the alternatives, which include a single replacement image, multiple images, no image at all, an infobox, etc. AmateurEditor (talk) 00:50, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Oh, Jesus Christ, don't throw infoboxes into the mix—we have enough bad feelings floating around without adding acrimony to the mix ;) Curly Turkey (gobble) 01:08, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
If enough people express agreement with you we should terminate the proposal discussion below, but I disagree with you on this. There does not seem to me to be a consensus on the abstract point that the current image is unacceptable. However, several people (myself included) have commented that if a better image is proposed, they would be willing to change, though of course everyone has slightly different criteria for "better". To me that indicates that discussion of specific options is the way to get consensus. I really don't want to go through some long discussion that concludes that the current image is less than ideal because it is a replica, without coming up with a better image to replace it with. If we have a better image to hand, let's propose it and skip the first part of the discussion. Conversely, if excellent images are proposed and fail to gain consensus as improvements over the current image, it can only be because many people commenting (again, myself included) don't agree that the current image is unacceptable. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:06, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Curly Turkey seems to be of the mistaken impression that Jesus Christ is an editor on wikipedia, seriously my friend, I'm sure he has better things to do. Can we please avoid making comments which are intentionally blasphemous. You can insult people like that. (talk) 12:30, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

Proposals for lead image (2)

These images are to demonstrate that there are options for the lead of this article that do not require the use of an object which is a 20th-century museum replica, created specifically for the interpretation of a genuine Medieval object, and only shown within the museum in that context. This is not about choosing the "most attractive' image.
NOTE: the use of the Vendel Helmet (7th century) is proposed as an interim solution to the removal of the reproduction object, not as a final choice, which resides with the editors.Amandajm (talk) 23:44, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Replica of the helmet found at Sutton Hoo; the original was buried with an Anglo-Saxon leader—probably King Rædwald of East Anglia—in the Early Middle Ages, c. 620[1]
A 7th-century helmet of the Vendel era from Sweden, Swedish Museum of National Antiquities.
The same 7th-century helmet of the Vendel era from Sweden, Swedish Museum of National Antiquities with its background darkened.
  1. ^ Nees Early Medieval Art pp. 109–112
Support for Sutton Hoo replica helmet
  • ...I don't have a problem with this...Modernist (talk) 17:05, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Despite the WALLOFTEXT approach to tell me that I ought not to approve of this image appearing in the lead, frankly I still prefer it to either of the Vendel helmet images. BencherliteTalk 23:50, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Of these three, would be happy enough with this one. Hchc2009 (talk) 06:21, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • What Bencherlite said. This is a catalogue-quality image of a high-quality object. No other image has gained any more traction: if one were found which did, I might support it. Nortonius (talk) 08:37, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Support for Vendel helmet (red background)
  • ...
Support for Vendel helmet (grey background)
  • ...
  • I see that the caption has been quite changed from what is in the article. I prefer the original caption, honestly. It reads less like a polemic and gives actual context for the original's burial. Ealdgyth - Talk 17:22, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    Since the goal is to compare alternative choices to the current version of the article, I've changed it to match the article. If the Sutton Hoo helmet remains as the lead image, we can have a further discussion to get consensus on changes to the caption, if necessary. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:32, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Leave the heading above the pictures as is. This is the case the I Amandajm (talk) 23:32, 17 September 2013 (UTC) have brought to the page, and that is the way that I choose to present my case.
All the general discussion about pretty, representative images took place between NevI, Ealdgyth and Johnbod far up the page. This is not about a general pick of a nice image. The whole point of this debate, and those three images, is the proposed removal of something seen as unsuitable. Amandajm (talk) 23:32, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Attempting to skew the discussion in your favour by edit-warring to set the parameters of acceptable argument in the header is oh-so-inappropriate, but you clearly don't care about discussion or viewpoints other than your own and I have real doubts that you wlll accept any answer other than what you regard as the "correct" one. BencherliteTalk 23:41, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • This is not about choosing an attractive object. This is about getting rid of one deemed unsuitable. It's my case, and I'll argue it as I choose. Please start another list of suggestions of your own! Amandajm (talk) 23:46, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Objection: I object to being bound into putting up a single alternative, as if this was an "either or" case. It isn't. It is not. It is a "remove that reproduction object and then come to any choice that pleases you" case.
I have no particular case for the Vendel Helmet. I simply have a very strong case against the reproduction one. Anything, a manuscript, the votive crowns, or any other genuine object will do, as far as I'm concerned. By being forced to a single proposal, it is making my position look much narrower than it is. Amandajm (talk) 00:06, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Amandajm, I suggested this approach for concreteness, and to avoid the lengthy discussions that haven't seemed to go anywhere. If you prefer to have a generic "This image is bad and should be replaced" discussion, with supports and opposes, please go ahead and terminate this one, but I would advise against it, since my impression is that you are more likely to get the image replaced by finding a specific image that is better than the current one. You don't have consensus on this page for your general point that the image is unacceptable, so I think you are better off finding a better image and proposing that. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:56, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes indeed. Nortonius (talk) 08:37, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, Nortonius, Sorry for my lack of response. I am now back after a forced absence.
  • The case for the Sutton Hoo reproduction helmet is that the team came to an agreement that the the Anglo-Saxon period (represented by an Anglo Saxon object) was fine to represent the entire Middle Ages, and that the present image is a high quality image of an attractive object, that is suitably attention grabbing.
I have no argument whatsoever against the object from that point of view. I do no want to force my choice on anyone. It would be very hard to find an image of better quality, and an object more "attention-grabbing" It is a thing of beauty, in itself. If aesthetics and suitability of the Anglo-Saxon period were the arguments, then I wouldn't be buying into it, at all.
  • My case for not using it is that it is reproduction. That is the sole objection. It represents late 20th-century museum interpretative practices. It has already provoke considerable criticism from an ethical (not an aesthetic) stand oint.
  • No-one has yet produced a case against this argument. Several of you have said that you don't mind. But no-one has justified its use by refuting the objections.
As long as yo keep coming up with: "It's OK by me, and It looks good" type answers, then you don't have a consensus because you are effectively opting out of any meaningful discussion.
You've been told that you might as well use stills from a Robin Hood movie. Let's hear one of yo answer that!
You've been told by a professional that this whole argument makes Wikipedia look unprofessional, and the answer to that was "We are an encyclopedia, not a Museum".
It has been pointed out that the use of the object doesn't comply with MOS use of lead images. I went off and looked at a few of the sites where images of the (real) helmet was used, as an indicator, and the refutation of that was that I should have looked at general sites. I have a very large library here and I can assure you that my volumes on history and art history are not fronted up by reproduction objects, unless they are about Van Meergeren and his forgeries.
  • It is absolutely obvious to anyone who reads this that the case for removing the reproduction object is very strong indeed, and the case "You don't have a consensus" is based on piss-weak statements that do not even look at the arguments raised, let alone address them.
  • I am not playing your game of trying to propose a "more striking" image, to compete with the reproduction Sutton Hoo helmet. The reason why that object remains is that the editors couldn't agree among themselves. I am prepared to propose an interim measure, and nothing more.
  • I find the fact that none of you has had the common sense to use the proffered replacement, until an agreement is reached, is short-sighted and just plain ignorant.
If the reproduction helmet is "good" then a genuine helmet, of the period that the reproduction reproduces can hardly be "bad", even if the photo does not grab you as much.
This is not about aesthetics; its about ethics.
The genuine object is a stop-gap measure, while the editors agree to something else.
  • If you think you have a case to support the use of the reproduction object rather than the real one to head up the article, then let's have your case.
Amandajm (talk) 09:36, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Amandajm, you have set out your arguments several times now, to the point of being repetitive. I have contributed very little to this discussion, mainly because we've been over this ground in previous discussions, somewhat extensively too: I can't speak for others, but it might be behind what you perceive to be an inadequate level of response. Really, I don't think you're going to improve things by saying that those who disagree with you have made "piss-weak statements", are lacking in "common sense", are "short-sighted" and "just plain ignorant". Nortonius (talk) 10:28, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Amandajm, I'm not sure what you think "consensus to remove" would look like, but nothing on this page can be said to be that. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:06, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Amandajm, I believe I understand your arguments, but I don't necessarily agree with them. You feel passionately about this, as evidenced by the fact that you see this as an ethical issue, but that passion can be taken too far and some your comments above are quite strong. Personally, I'm not asking you to play "a game"; rather, I don't think there's a consensus from the editorial community on this page that the current image is inherently bad, and therefore the question becomes the relative merits of any replacement. I don't believe I'm "against" you on this issue, it's just that we currently disagree. Hchc2009 (talk) 19:09, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your well-co-ordinated comments comments.
In answer to Nortonius, In light of the fact that comments made by editors other than me have been really quite damning (Robin Hood movie stills, Al Jolson in Blackface, a group of five-year-olds coming to a consensus that "Birthday" was spelt "Bithday") then I do indeed find your lack of realisation that the continued use of the reproduction object makes Wikipedia look bad to be extremely short-sighted. Even one such comment ought to have alerted to a problem!
if you, Nortonius, Mike Christie, and Hchc2009 are in the habit of contributing in a serious way to history articles, then coming from my position, your lack of concern over the continued use of an image of a reproduction object, rather than a real one appears ignorant of the generally accepted practices in using reproduction objects (i.e. for interpretation of real objects and not as stand-alone objects) , and there is no way of saying that more politely. (i.e. you apparently neither know the general practices in the use of such objects nor care about them). In this, I find your failure to recognise and respond to professional advice when you receive it to be extraordinary.
As for the quality of the argument for keeping the object, no-one has come up with anything stronger that "It looks the way that people from the Middle Ages would have seen it" and "There is not a consensus that the image is inherently bad." I withdraw "piss-weak". "Weak" on its own is probably quite sufficient.
Hchc2009, I take your current state of disagreement to mean that the merits of a visually attractive image of a reproduction object override the merits of any of the proposed (and I do mean any of the proposed) images of genuine, authentic objects from the Middle Ages? Well, all I can say is, it is an extremely sad day for the British Museum! They might just as well put the Sutton Hoo Helmet, those battered old Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone down in the basement. You are trying to persuade me, seriously, that you believe that the display of a reproduction object is just as valid as the display of a genuine one?
Well, if seriously believe that, Hchc2009, I have no argument that will change your mind, except that doing this is making Wikipedia look seriously bad.
"There are none so blind as those that will not see." Unfortunately, the voice of one crying in the wilderness appears to have struck a quorum of three.
You editors continue to point out the fact that I don't have sufficient support for removal of the image of a 'reproduction object at the lead of the article.
Regardless of that, any half-resonable reader of this page is really going to question your reasons for not agreeing between the three of you, for an interim change. It might be asked why in the light of the arguments against the use of the object, you three have not chosen to do something about it, when you seem to be able to co-ordinate yourselves so very well, mainly to criticise my approach, rather than to provide solid reasons for the continued use of that image.
Is there anyone out there who can provide a really convincing reason for keeping this image?
Don't tell me that I haven't provided adequate reason for it's removal.
Amandajm (talk) 08:37, 21 September 2013 (UTC)
Amandajm, you note above that "I take your current state of disagreement to mean that the merits of a visually attractive image of a reproduction object override the merits of any of the proposed (and I do mean any of the proposed) images of genuine, authentic objects from the Middle Ages?" To clarify, my disagreeing with you doesn't mean that. I do think that the importance of an image (or object, in a museum setting) lies in what it communicates to an audience, and that replica or recreated objects and images can play an important part in that process. Choosing original or replica images invokes a range of issues, of which aesthetics are only one - albeit important - component. I would suspect that our views on material heritage and visual anthropology differ slightly; I generally tend to support greater use of participatory and immersive techniques in communicating history and culture - I love the recreated streets in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, for example, or the sensory effect generated by the Jorvik Viking Centre. Hchc2009 (talk) 10:51, 21 September 2013 (UTC)
Hchc2009, you are exactly right in your repetition of a point that I have made several times, but which perhaps you have missed: Reproduction objects, such as the reproduction Sutton Hoo helmet can play a very important part in the interpretation, for the public, of genuine museum objects. (included in that are objects that have ceased to exist, such as the Classical chryselephantine sculptures and the historic site at Olympus, both of which I mentioned earlier). I have told you: I have come from a museum background- I have used reproduction objects for all sorts of educational purposes. I know the ethics involved in the use of reproduction and genuine objects.
  • Reproduction objects are used when there is a really good case for using a reproduction e.g. it is going to be handled or demonstrated, or the original object is is such deplorable condition that it is hard for the public to get a clear concept of it. The Jorvik Viking Centre has a role in giving people a great educational experience.
  • Fronting up a learned article with a reproduction object is not the same thing. None of your readers are about to reach out and touch the genuine ancient helmet. You are not about to give them the experience of putting it on their head and feeling the weight of it. You don't need the reproduction helmet to demonstrate what a helmet of that date might have looked like, because there is a very clear image of a well-preserved helmet of that date available. The reproduction Sutton Hoo Helmet has a very real place in the interpretation, for the public, of the ancient fragments of the real helmet, i.e. in its museum context, it is a perfectly valid reproduction object. It is, however, an inappropriate choice to illustrate 700 years of history for which there are thousands of representative objects available, and it, in fact, was created hundreds of years later.
Amandajm (talk) 12:32, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Beijing Olympics Do you remember the pretty little girl in the red dress who replaced the genuine singer, because the real singer wasn't deemed pretty enough? The whole world felt duped, when they discovered what had happened. Well, the current attitude here, that seems to prefer the reproduction to the genuine fits into the same category! Nothing, not a single genuine Medieval object on Wikimedia Commons is deemed worthy to replace that shiny new late 20th-century object, which has been deemed more visually appealing. Not a problem? Amandajm (talk) 13:01, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

I find it hilarious, that even when criticism of the lead image is brought up time and time again - in various different ways with legitimate criticisms ranging from authenticity, to national bias - that there is a small group of editors here who seem completely opposed to changing the picture for any reason. It has been suggested before that an alternative, more authentic image can be used to replace the lead image - since any image would be better than what we have at present (literally every single suggestion would be better, just to pre-empt the inevitable 'but nothing has been chosen to replace waa' response). Yet I still see the situation where the 'default' is wrongly set to the lead image that is so contentious in the first goddamn place.
Seriously, I looked into this talk page on the 23rd August, and exactly the same situation was ongoing with the ganging up on the previous person to dare to suggest that the image was questionable. What did I find? On Ealdgyth's talk page (which she has since deleted) she and other editors complained about people continually bringing up this topic about the Middle Ages article. Hun, noone is commenting on the rest of the article, the rest is fine, but you should not shut down criticism of the lead image just because it is "tiresome". If there is a lot of criticism of something, by various different academics/members of the public, then that image needs to change.
I am most surprised by the hostility of the seeming cabal of editors that are zealously guarding this image. Every. Single. Goddamn. Criticism. By. Different. People. Is. Shut. Down. Without. Acknowledgement. This has been going on for how long now? I had a look on 23rd August. and at that point the discussion had been going on for a while between several people, now its still ongoing and its STILL being shut down? Absolutely ridiculous. It's a goddamn farce, and every single editor who is still completely opposed to changing a 20th century fake ethnically biased piece is looking a mixture of corrupt and petty to members of the general public, whom this article is directed towards.
Where on earth is the accountability here?! Can a neutral image of this article only occur through divine intervention at this stage? I will be eagerly following the rest of this tragedy as it plays out, I will scan the talk pages of the editors involved, and if I see any more gloating about 'lol those dumb people, why are they so adamantly against this image?' then this time I will save and post here for maximum exposure of the corrupt and petty nature of these editors, before they delete them as they did before. (talk) 22:56, 21 September 2013 (UTC)
If enough people support a change of image to another image, it will happen. I don't know if you consider me part of some cabal, but I don't. FYI, editors' talk page are usually deleted and moved to an archive after a while to avoid the page becoming unmanageably long. Links to the archives are usually visible on the talk pages; this is true for Ealdgyth, for example. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:04, 22 September 2013 (UTC)
Judging from the image, the Vendel helmet has undergone extensive debridement of corrosion, presenting a rough silvery surface unlike its original appearance. Also the "pose" is weak. Xanthomelanoussprog (talk) 06:52, 22 September 2013 (UTC)
The surface of the Vendel Helmet is as one would expect from an object that has been dug up and undergone some conservation. Its surface indicates its antiquity and past. In other words, it's genuine.
As for the "weakness" of its pose: MOS would suggest that facing inwards is preferable to facing out of the page.
Let me repeat, I am not trying to lock anyone into my choice of an image. But the real object, however corroded, is 100% preferable to an object that is 100% modern, as a fall-back, until the editors come to an agreement.
Amandajm (talk) 07:45, 22 September 2013 (UTC)
I also want to add my support for changing to the real Vendel helmet image over the fake reconstruction. Honestly just skimming the thread this convo has been going on for long enough and I agree that its kinda silly that the default image still remains as the lead when the majority of commentators have expressed their opposition to it. (talk) 10:05, 26 September 2013 (UTC)


I haven't read much of this but could we not have a mosaic of images like WW2 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Inenglishplease (talkcontribs) 23:00, 9 November 2013 (UTC)